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)
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!


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.