Friday, April 30, 2010

Last class of the semester for Thursday night, and it ended on a good note. Yippee! My sense is that my (average) afternoon class and my (troublesome) Thursday evening class did fine. It was my (wonderful) Tuesday evening class that seems to have taken the biggest hit from my two week hiatus! Go figure!

Something happened in that class - a guy had a panic episode during his group's presentation, and he packed up and left. They handled it beautifully, but the following week, a bunch of students bailed at the break, and the following week when I was back, attendance was terrible. I don't know if any of it is related to the student who bailed during the presentation, and I don't know if his panic was aggravated by my absence.

Anyway, one more campus day (5/4), and then grades are due May 17. The spring semester of 2010 draws to a close - and marks my tenth year of teaching. Still love it!! (Furlough or not.)

Although...the furlough thing has me furious. I work from home three days per week, and go to campus twice a week. I have the same workload regardless of whether I am getting an unpaid "day off," whatever that means. I doubt the university is going to suspend classes (not that it would matter until Fall at this point) and the May 17 deadline isn't changing. Finally, I will get paid this summer for an assignment I actually completed during the Spring - it is done this way for cash flow reasons, so summer session isn't as much of a shock. So if the furlough goes through, not only will I be paid 20 percent less for the same work, they will take some money back from me that I already earned, for a time when other workers were not being furloughed.

I have sympathy for the state's dire financial situation, but I don't think the furlough idea is a good solution. The spillover to restaurants, retail, contractors will be felt. Big time. Frankly, it feels like a direct shot at the Capital District.

However, the legislature so doesn't have its act together that I predict the budget extender won't pass (not to mention the actual budget...not on the horizon at all). So then it will be script instead of furlough?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yay! Rudy was on Pet Connection in 1995.
Don't let the screen door hit you in the a-s. Good riddance. Poor Carleton.

In other news, this is a sad situation. I once worked for someone who had the same sort of attitude. I doubt she would have stolen or misused public resources, but she definitely would have agreed that "arts are different." While I have sympathy for that sentiment, I am a strict objectivist on ethical issues. I've no reason to doubt that the director is a charming, charismatic, dedicated person, but what is especially irritating is that her sense of entitlement has put the Institute at risk - at a time when the state is closing parks, cutting essential services, etc., she made it easier to justify axing NYSTI, and that is despicable. But it doesn't sound like she will take responsibility, which is pathetic.

Friday, April 23, 2010

His follow-up appointment went well. They took the left drain out, and left the right one in. We were a little concerned, because the left was looking inflamed. But the volume was very low, and removing it should take care of the inflammation.

Afterwards, we had lunch at the Fountain. His first restaurant outing since last Tuesday, 4/13! (That's a long time for us.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bob is doing well. Watching a lot of TV. (Which under normal circumstances would drive me crazy, but I am (of course) being tolerant.) I weed whacked the yard, hoping he might venture out, but he hasn't yet. His follow-up appointment is tomorrow.

Here are some new pictures of the animals:

Ande likes the sun spot in the livingroom. Sam's toy is a good substitute futon for him, he is so little.

Sophie likes the sun spot too. I think this is the first time they have been so close while resting, sharing a space. (Ande would like to interact more, but Sophie is a "zero" on the cat scale.)

Had to get one of Sam. He doesn't really care about the sun spot.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bob came home from the hospital today and is doing great! The best after any surgery. This is how I thought the first surgery would go last year. Hopefully this is the last one!
I hope this dog finds a great home.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Finished the taxes! Yay! One more thing off the to do list. What an awful task that is every year. Half the awful-ness is the realization of how much was paid in total (this is true regardless of whether filing results in a refund, having to pay in more, or a break even between state and fed) - kind of like the matrix, better to not know :-) and the other half of the awful-ness are the esoteric instructions [anyone know whether there is a state form for 1099-MISC the way there is for 1099-R and the W-2? I searched in vain...].

I added my twitter feed to this page. I tried to add it to facebook, but for some reason it isn't letting me log into my twitter account to enable it. I can log into twitter without a problem, but installing the application to add the twitter tab to fb requires logging into twitter during the process, and that doesn't work. I tried it both ways, from fb and from twitter. Oh well, must be some glitch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bob had his pre-operative appointments this morning. Afterwards we had lunch at the Recovery Room, in the Hilton Hotel across the street from the hospital. It was all deja vu. I am trying to manage my anxiety. I have a nearly constant low-level feeling of anxiousness for the past few days, and it is getting worse as Thursday is approaching. Missing my classes isn't helping. I tend to lapse into self-consciousness anyway, when I don't have work to focus on. I'm trying to keep it in check so that Bob doesn't get burdened with it. He has enough on his mind. He has a good attitude and is trying to be optimistic but it's hard to not be apprehensive. I know he is inside.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Last night we went to see Gypsy at Cohoes Music Hall. The theatre was built in 1874, the same year my grandfather was born. The seats are uncomfortable, but they put on very good performances there. I'm not much of a Sondheim fan, but Gypsy was great. As I watched it, I remembered seeing the movie version (with Natalie Wood) when I was a kid. Also interesting, the real-life Baby June died on March 28 at age ~98.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I made a mistake yesterday. It really illustrates that there is always the chance of something unexpected happening in the classroom. In holding to the premise that disclosure is good, I marched into my afternoon class yesterday and before I snapped in the video on charter schools that I planned to show, I announced that due to Bob's surgery, I will miss their presentations next week, and that the department chair will be substituting for me for the next two weeks. (That is the optimistic plan; there is also the pessimistic side: a chance that I will miss the rest of the semester, but I am choosing to believe that repair #4 will be the charm).

Hands shot up all over the room. Several faces almost looked like they might cry. I felt like a non-custodial parent who misses their kid's little league championship when they promised to be there.

I realized my mistake immediately. I should not have hit them with this news without having time to address all their concerns. I should have waited until Thursday, when I will have the time to hear them out and respond. I managed to field a few questions, and promised to fully discuss everything on Thursday. One question I took was whether the department chair will be participating in their assessment. Well, yes, to a degree. He will be taking notes of things that strike him. But I will still evaluate them, and much of the 20 points is determined by something other than the actual performance.

I took a lesson from this when I told the evening class. I do have the time in that class to field questions since it is longer. I told them how sorry I am to miss their big day and at the same time how proud I am to showcase what I am sure will be their outstanding efforts. The shock of the afternoon students gave me an idea about remaining connected. I gave them my personal email address since I check it on my blackberry, and the twitter name (howzerdo) where I will post brief updates (hate the word "tweet," find it an insult to birds) on surgery day, and during his hospitalization and recovery. (I don't plan to use it otherwise.)

One question several students in the evening section had was whether the department chair will ask them questions after their presentations. It was at that point I realized that presenting is a difficult task - it was for me as an undergraduate, and in fact, until I started teaching, I was afraid of public speaking. I had to answer yes, I think so, but he won't be trying to trip you up, so don't worry.

I promised them that I plan to err on the side of generosity with their grades.

One more class to tell tomorrow. It's the tricky one with the great midterms. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 05, 2010

You could knock me over with a feather. The class I wrote about here and here submitted the strongest batch of midterms I can remember. What a relief...both having them graded, and that they were very good.
Liz Bishop and John Gray advanced to the bobblehead vote finals! YAY!

There has been some attention on the TU blogs of the popularity contest nature of the competition, and that not enough attention has been paid to the charities. I think this competitor has been most sensitive to the criticism. While I understand the critics' point and don't like popularity contests myself, I am not that much more comfortable making it a popularity contest for charities instead of local media folks. Hopice v. Special Olympics? How could I ever choose? Special Olympics is sports-related, maybe that should be the deciding factor. But I know Hospice is a terrific organization. Choosing between charities would only work for me if one was an animal welfare organization. Everyone knows what I'd choose!

Basing it on the charity really doesn't work because people who go to the game are getting a doll, not a tee-shirt with the charity's name. Which face do they want on the shelf? I assume that's how most fans are deciding. But I won't be going to the game and getting one, so I don't care about the actual doll. Then, why do I care at all? Well, because it is a fun kudo for the winner. Why not just admit that?

I am really torn. Choose Liz because she started out as a sports reporter and broke barriers, or John who is so "hometown Troy" and writes my favorite newspaper column?

Friday, April 02, 2010

More ESP photos.

Bob's surgery is now scheduled for April 15! I have a LOT of schedule scrambling to do.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Dan DiNicola died last week, and I watched some of his old videos on WRGB:

Video 1

Video 2