Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back here I linked to a post with lots of nice pictures, and Empire Plaza was called an "atrocity."

I thought I'd share what it looks like from inside the "atrocity." Here are some pictures Bob took with his blackberry from his new office. He moved from Troy to Corning Tower in Empire Plaza yesterday. The best part is that it cut his commute from more than a half hour to 15 minutes, but he is absolutely loving the view.

Looking toward I-787, Rensselaer and the Hudson River

Looking toward the Plaza, the Capitol and the Egg

A corner office ~ way to go Bob!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The detective wannabe in me thinks there is more to this story than meets the eye, that someday it will be one of those 48 Hour Mysteries type stories. It's a real tragedy. There are many comments on the stories at the Times Union and Buffalo News defending the home owner, many questioning the home owner's actions, and a few from people who know the victim. Lots of speculation. I say there are many questions and more details have to come out before the truth will be revealed.

The news stories report that both the victim and the home owner are good, upstanding people. I have no reason to doubt this, so I would believe that the victim was partying hardy with old college friends at a happy life milestone celebration, that he had too much to drink, that the suburban houses look alike, that he went into the wrong one accidentally, was acting stupid drunk, the home owner freaked because a stranger who was acting strange was in the house, interpreted it as a threat or was seized by panic, and he shot him. One could use it as an example of a home owner protecting their own life, family and private property, of the risks of violence when guns are handy, of the tragic outcomes possible from drinking too much, of a sad accident that took a good person's life and that will probably haunt the shooter forever. That's what I would believe, and I'd see the many sides to this horrible story.

I know what I just wrote is all speculation (very few details have emerged at this point), but the detective in me says it just doesn't add up. I'm no stranger to partying foolishness (especially when I was 31), but I can't remember an event, especially not one that was connected to a baby shower, having zero responsible people there - people like me who hardly ever lose control, even when partying. Who take car keys, make food and offer water. Wasn't there anyone at the party who noticed their drunk friend wandering off?

Then, I grew up in a place where locking doors was not always a given, but even then, when I was a teenager, the practice became pretty standard, especially at night. What are the odds that this guy chose the unlocked house? Wouldn't someone who was concerned enough for safety to rely on a gun lock their doors? Again, as a "responsible" person (I always turn lights off, be sure the stove is off, etc.), I am vigilant about locking the doors - and I am not all that scared of crime. It doesn't say that the door was unlocked, but even if the victim was pretty drunk, if he was the kind of person the news is reporting, how could it be that he had the skills or inclination to break in?

Something else interesting that is unrelated to it not adding up. I haven't "scientifically" tallied a qualitative analysis - but it seems to me that more of the comments at the Buffalo News site are supportive of the home owner, while more of the comments at the Times Union are supportive of the victim. An example, I think of being more comfortable believing bad things about "the other" and excusing the actions of your own, something we study in my Toleration class. "Your own" in this case would be "local."

Friday, March 26, 2010

This story brought tears to my eyes.

On another subject...

I was thinking that it was 4 years between publications. In 2006, my education book came out, and "Christmas Paper" appeared in the Freeman. I sent "It's A Wonder We Didn't Get Drownded" in eleven months ago, and it was accepted for publication in October.

When I went from administration to teaching, I thought I'd have more time for writing and marketing of my writing. That hasn't been the case, teaching demands a lot of time. And when I have free time (mostly in the summer) the garden and outdoors are irresistable.

I do like teaching better than administration, so it hasn't been a bad decision.

But I would like to see my name in print more than once every four years. I have to make it a priority this summer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Spring issue of Kaatskill Life is out! My story is on page 32. I'm psyched, it came out great! They used all three pictures (two postcards and a picture of Mimmie sitting at her kitchen table). They have a website but don't put entire issues online (and they haven't updated it to reflect the Spring issue yet).

Monday, March 15, 2010

We've been painting our bedroom. Last time it was done was over twenty years ago, so it definitely was a long time coming. It is green - just like almost every other room (although of course it is a different shade). That's a favorite color, or maybe the favorite color...Next weekend we will put in a much needed closet - then we will be done!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last night's class went OK. Tough subjects even during my better classes - ethics and academic honesty. I always get a lot of "lip" from a few - they argue that cheating is not so bad / justified / not a reflection of students' moral character etc. depending on the situation. I always wind up telling them this is not a relativist subject and while I favor constructivism as a learning style, in this case I am a strict objectivist, as is the university, and their "feelings" don't matter. It comes as a surprise because I generally encourage all types of debate.

I knew it would be especially explosive last night in this class, and it was. A lot of the usual push back, but there is a student who is quite bright and participatory who argued a different (and I confess interesting) angle: if someone who excels in science is a bad writer, what is the big deal with cheating in a general education requirement? Of course I discounted that perspective, asked why is the university admitting students with bad writing skills? Agreed that gen eds may be BS, but that's the deal with getting a degree and the way to address it is not through cheating, that such strategy equals low ethics and raises doubts about whether such students would eventally find reasons to justify falsifying research in their fields. Finished off with saying, these sort of people would never be my friends.

I guess this is why I was preoccupied yesterday. Glad it is over.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ugh. This has become such a common story recently that I almost didn't link it. But then I remembered that today I have been thinking of how much I dislike Thursdays, because I am not crazy about my night class.

I haven't had a class that I consider less than successful in quite a few semesters. The reason this time around is a general negative vibe. Also the students don't seem prepared. It's terrible that a handful of students spoil the atmosphere (the vast majority of students are great), but what can you do? I noticed the dynamic immediately and made an effort to change it - which has worked to some degree, but not completely. I find myself having to be way too much of a controlling behaviorist, and I don't like that style of teaching.

So here it is, halfway through the semester, and I dread going to class; counting the days until it's a wrap. I will give out the midterm this evening, which should be a wake-up call. Unfortunately, I have a feeling the call won't be heard until less than stellar grades are reported (as undoubtedly will happen), seeing the questions won't be enough.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with the disgusting linked story? Well, this isn't the reason for my low opinion of the class, but last week I was teasing some students during discussion about a question that had to do with animals (and I have made it clear many times how much I love them), when one of them shouted, "I hate animals." She wasn't kidding, she was deadly serious.

OK, not everyone has to feel as I do, she isn't a candidate for being a personal friend in real life (or on facebook) and it certainly has nothing to do with how she will be graded, or really with the negative atmosphere of class. I don't dislike this student, in fact I approve of students who participate, regardless of what they contribute. But it struck me as extreme cluelessness - the professor has clearly stated her passion for her pets during the class go-around, and when I am telling stories during lectures. So it would be a good idea to keep your mouth shut on this issue, even though I was teasing the group, and I doubt the student intended to be mean-spirited. However, I consider it disrespect and a direct in-my-face challenge, to be honest - a perfect demonstration of why I don't like going to class every Thursday.

So the actions of the degenerate in the TU story I linked - not a surprise. This student would probably shrug at his behavior.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Well, the eighth (!) anniversary of Gully Brook Press passed yesterday and I didn't even remember it until just now.

My building on campus has been in the process of renovation for the past couple of years, and today they are finally up to the third floor. It was (still is) kind of shabby, I guess, and when they are done it is much nicer - but I am a little freaked out because I know there is asbestos up there...

...also it makes a lot of noise, which I can't stand.