Sunday, May 30, 2010

I scanned my story from Spring 2010's Kaatskill Life, It's A Wonder We Didn't Get Drownded.

Also started to tinker with the Gully Brook Press website a little. Maybe I will finally finish restoring what I lost when AOL hometown disappeared.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Must be obvious by now that I have a lot more time to write here. My posting decreases to a trickle when I have a lot of other demands. I expected to be away this weekend, but it turns out I am home. I do have a lot of stuff I plan to do (the garden!!) but since it isn't beastly hot today, my office is very pleasant, and so the PC was calling. (Not that gardening is better at 90 degrees...
hmmm...rethink that maybe? Nah...)

A couple of weeks ago we attended a retirement party for a favorite professor of ours from undergraduate days. I wanted to make him something for the event, and so I went through a stack of old notebooks from that time. (Yes, I still have most of my college notebooks and even a few from high school, stored among cobwebs and dust on a shelf in the stairwell.) I photocopied some of the pages of notes, mostly things he said about the readings that were discusssed in class, found some pictures of campus and made a big card out of a new notebook.

During that process, I skimmed through several of my old journals. I was a prolific writer at that time. (Not that I don't write quite a bit now, but aging and years of education have changed my style.) I scribbled down journal entries, short stories and fragments, poetry, all sorts of observations, and illustrated some of them too.

Some things amused me, jumped out at me, things that I want to document electronically. I am not sure whether paper ephemera or its electronic cousin will last longer. Will I still be able to access this in 30 years? Some of Elwyn's diaries are 100 years old and they aren't in bad shape.

Anyway, here's a sample...

April 18, '78

We got a new television today, so we watched the Holocaust in real color instead of the pea-soup green that our other television broadcast in. My father hooked it up between commercials. It made us all feel really good to see a TV ad about two minutes later which said, “Panasonic is better than SONY…Panasonic is better than RCA…Panasonic is better than Zenith!” ‘cause our new TV is a Zenith.

August 31, ‘81

Today’s Chuckle: How not to do it

“My dear,” he said, “that’s a poetic name!”

“Thank you,” she replied, emotionlessly.

“Did anyone ever tell you that you have a moustache?” he asked.

“I think I’ve heard this routine before," she replied, leaving.

September 2, '81

“Please listen to what I’m not saying.”

“Don’t expect anything and you’ll never be disappointed.”

October 9, '82

As soon as I reached the age of reason, I rushed for the tweezers and plucked out practically all of my eyebrows. Or maybe that should be “eyebrow,” because I was, after all, only born with one.

Maybe it is time to join our “rebellious” sisters and let our hair all grow out. Truly, I despise the society which made sleek, smooth calves the prerequisite for femininity. But I am not among those who can break from tradition and proudly display what nature has given me intact. I admire those women, but I am somewhat too susceptible to popular opinion.


“I’m not a native,” she confided, and I smiled a little, because this statement puzzled me. “No, she continued, “I didn’t come here until I was married.” Then I was really amused, because Mimmie was born and raised in West Hurley, a town twelve miles south of where she now lives, though outside of our town borders. A trivial thing to someone not from the Catskills, but for a resident of my hometown, that meant you weren’t a native.

To me, though born and raised in the town of Olive, West Hurley is close enough. At my present location, some 85 miles northwest of where that conversation took place, I often encounter people who consider me still living in my area. As I enter my final year here, it is with regret that I acknowledge my time here is nearing an end.

In 1978, I viewed things somewhat differently. Oneonta, considered home to me now, seemed a booming metropolis, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. And indeed, from the vantage point of a girl raised in West Shokan, a mountainous hamlet boasting a population of 300, Oneonta’s side-walked streets and hilly surroundings filled me with fear, and longing to be back in the community which was familiar to me.

The other students surprised me, the majority of whom were from New York City and the metropolitan area. They considered Oneonta a boring “hick” town, a cultural vacuum, and a number of other uncomplimentary adjectives. I recalled that my mother once confided, “if anyone ever asks me ‘how can you live in this little hick town?’ I always reply “well, I am a hick! And I’m proud of it!”

I was proud, too. I challenged anyone in my dorm to display more town pride than I.

My mother’s family had lived in my town - well, for generations. (My grandmother, though, as I wrote before, doesn’t consider herself a native.) My father can’t claim that status either...for a very real reason. He’s only been a resident for 35 years or so (!), the place of his birth being Philadelphia.

Mimmie's recipe notebook, from 1926
This is so cute!

Funny column!

And finally, yay and yay again!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I didn't bother to take the test described here, but I have taken the written test for a driving permit four times in my life, most recently a year ago.

I got a score of 100 every time. I did notice that there are a lot of questions now about DWI, so the test is about half road signs, half DWI questions. In the past, I remember there being more questions on things such as right of way, emergency situations and exotic turns.

I've written more extensively about my efforts to get a license here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Saturday, we went to the Ghent Playhouse and saw Prisoner of Second Avenue. It was fantastic! The '70s economic situation really resonated. And the playhouse itself is such a great re-use of the old town hall.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My 30th wedding anniversary today!

The cake topper 30 years later. A metaphor for life, perhaps? :-)

It was a beautiful day 30 years ago, and it is a beautiful day today. "Thank you for all of my blessings," as I whisper every night before I go to sleep, or whenever somone asks me to say Grace.
While I'm at it, I am going to air an unrelated (to the last post) gripe about the TU blogs. Most of the regular reporters treat them too much like just a part of their job. That means "banker's hours," very M-F 9 to 5-ish. Posts are few and far between at other times, relevant stories are missed, and comments go unmoderated, which completely kills the thread because commenter dialogue is disjointed. They also give "hat tips" in print to blogs that are not very active. Whatever the (many) flaws of the TU, its electronic presence is impressive, but this isn't what blogs are supposed to be.
I read the Times Union blogs sometimes, and comment occasionally. A couple of days ago I read a post on one (that I am not linking because it was not related at all to what I am going to write) where a brief mention was made that the newspaper had hired a new reporter.

The new reporter is a former editor of the Albany Student Press. Nothing earth-shattering there, except that he was the editor in 2005 when the front-page story plagiarized the Capital District Business Review on a story about the Albany Advocates and UAlbany's party school ranking. I still remember the case because I had the plagiarizer in my class a year before it happened, and I remember the editor's name because I now use the incident as an example when we cover ethics and academic dishonesty in my Toleration class. So I read the articles about the case every semester.

I guess it struck me especially because I just caught a student being dishonest, after a break for several semesters from discovering anyone.

I wonder whether this incident is discussed when he is interviewing for a job? I think it has to be the most significant learning experience of his life as an editor. Did he really learn from the incident, as he advised he would when he wrote the column acknowledging the "mistake" at that time?

His column then was very unconvincing to me. I'll be watching his TU reporting very carefully.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I finally finished grading!! It was done at 8:45 last night. So I had over three hours before the deadline. I caught one student plagiarizing, which barely gets a rise out of me any longer, although it has been a couple of years since I discovered an instance. So today was spent working on a report related to it, rather than getting to all the other tasks that have been on the back burner while I tallied grades. For the next few days (unless something else unexpected crops up) I'll have to devote my time to my advisement duties. And then I can get some personal things done, such as finishing assembling the new furniture. Or maybe rototilling the garden, assuming it dries out enough.

Besides finding a student being academically dishonest, yesterday I learned that the archive of my summer session class from last year can't be found. The best they can do is two years ago. This means more than the usual revisions. Very irritating waste of time. It isn't the first time this has happened since we switched courseware in '08. Some things are better, but the archiving situation is not one of them. Data loss never happened before the transition, or at least it never happened to me.

Bob returned to work part-time on Monday. He's been going in about 6 hours per day. Doing well, getting used to normal clothes, but he is tired in the afternoon. Tomorrow he has a follow up doctor's appointment.

Carol Burnette was at Proctor's tonight. Wish I could have gone, always loved her show. In the "old days" we would have gone, but we've gotten frugal, and the $20 cheap seats aren't worth the hassle (of obstructed view).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Up to my eyeballs in grading! So many things to write about, but no time.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Betty White was so good on SNL...that it made me realize (even more than I already knew) how much the show has sucked for the past 30 years. The show tonight (I guess technically it was last night, but I haven't been to bed yet so...) was great. She was awesome. You go, girl!!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Last day of classes was yesterday! Always bittersweet. Grades are due May 17.

Looks like the furloughs are likely...
I've been interested in the subject of death since I was a teenager, searching for meaning. At that time, I read all sorts of books on the topic and discussed it with "elders," and took a few anthro-type courses about death in college. I've never been creeped out, as some are, by cemeteries, places and spaces where people die, funerals, the dying, etc. I am trustee for a cemetery, and also live near one. So the phenomenon of shrines interests me.

I didn't feel like repeating this in a comment, but I wrote about roadside memorials here. When I was considering updated thoughts on this issue, what came to mind is a shrine that is on Brookview Road. A 16 year old boy who was riding a bicycle was hit by a drunk driver who left the scene. There was an elaborate memorial near a stone wall at the accident site. It stayed there for years, growing less elaborate over time, but still refreshed every so often. There is now just one of those perpetual flames on the spot.

The house is beautiful, as is the wall, and I guess the people who live there don't mind the memorial, or perhaps participate in maintaining it, I don't know. The boy's (who would now be a young man) family lives only a few houses away. I discovered I wrote about this already, when it happened, here.

This isn't about roadside memorials for car crash victims, but I wrote on the subject of shrines in cemeteries here (as well as other things! The shrine part is the third paragraph).

In Albany there is a bicycle, brightly painted and adorned with flowers and ribbons, chained to a light pole on Western Avenue. It marks the intersection where a woman was hit and killed a few years ago.

The idea of shrines is an interesting cultural phenomenon. Frankly, I don't have a problem with it, although I doubt it is something I would do. If it is private property, I think it should be between the homeowner and the bereaved. Kind people of good sense should not have a problem working it out, how long it stays, etc. I think the owners of the house with the stone wall are a wonderful example.

If it is public property, if it causes problems with traffic visability or danger to memorial visitors, then I think the time could be limited, perhaps an alternate location suggested if the time has to be (too) short. If it is in a place where it doesn't matter, who cares? Why can't we be compassinate, and not judgmental? For instance, the bike is not in a place where it causes problems, why increase the pain to her loved ones?

Besides comforting people who are grieving, I do think the memorials may serve as a reminder to passersby that driving can be dangerous, and life is fleeting, so wake up! Not a bad thing, IMO.

It's too bad that many of the links in those old posts don't work. That's a hassle with the web.