Monday, December 31, 2012

Saw the movie Lincoln last night. It was great! My only two criticisms, both minor, were that I think it could have ended a little bit earlier, by about 10 or 15 minutes. Not that I thought it was "too long." Yes, it was quite a long movie, but I'll refrain from saying why I believe it could have had a scene or two cut. (How can a movie on this subject have a spoiler problem? But still.) Also, (an I knew this would happen, always does in Spielberg movies) it should be toned down in the 1-2 instances when the lighting gets all warm & fuzzy during heartfelt scenes. He didn't do it as much in Lincoln (or Schindler's List) but he still can't resist. The scenes are fine, but that lighting always reminds me of ET.

Neither hurt the movie much, though. Sally Field was great! I didn't know who was in it (or forgot) besides Daniel Day-Lewis (who was also great). I'll bet there will be some supporting actor nominations and wins too, or should be anyway.  If it doesn't win almost all the Academy Awards, I will be pissed. I didn't see many other movies (yet or at all?) that will get nominated, but I can't imagine any could be as good. However, I am not sure whether someone with less knowledge of the Civil War, Lincoln and government machinations would like it quite as much.


Added: Bob is of the opinion Les Mis will take the awards. He may be right. It it more of a Hollywood pleaser. Something I forgot to mention about Lincoln, though: the audience applauded as the credits rolled. Haven't experienced that very often in movies.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Last night we ate at Hana. I rarely go near Crossgates Mall, but we both get our hair cut in Colonie on Central Avenue (by a guy who has been our stylist since 1985 when he worked downtown) so we were kind of in the vicinity. I never would have thought of the place -- not sure I even knew it was there -- but Bob was treating.

We eat out a lot, always have. It's a shared common interest. Both of us (especially me, but him too sometimes) like to cook, but it can't compete with our love for fine dining establishments. Our preferences run to nicer places, patronizing fast food joints only when we are treating the dogs to lunch out.

I do have a restaurant tag here, but rarely review places. Usually I only link with a comment of "ate at the wonderful X, a favorite spot," or something like that. Bob and I have discussed collaborating to write restaurant reviews many times -- years ago, a print guide and more recently, a blog, but have never gotten around to it.

This is one time when I feel compelled to whip up a review. The best word I can come up with to describe the experience: Mediocre. First ding, the parking lot was a sheet of ice. There was maybe a teaspoon of salt sprinkled near the door, which -- second ding -- we discovered was locked. There were no signs or directions indicating the entrance was on the other side of the building only. But, Bob drove around after we couldn't open the door. The parking lot was less slippery near the unlocked door on the other side of the lobby.

It's a big place, almost showy, Bob said it was a steakhouse before becoming a Japanese restaurant. The majority of patrons were in large groups sitting around cooking tables. We sat in what seemed to be the only section for regular tables.

The menu is large, maybe 2/3 sushi, 1/3 other items. Most of our favorite (shared) Japanese appetizers were listed, so we chose two: vegetable tempura and chicken karaage. Third ding. The tempura was primarily disks of what I think were potatoes and possibly squash, no carrots, no onions and only one broccoli floret. They weren't crisp enough and the coating was tasteless. The chicken was exactly like popcorn chicken off a bar food menu. The plum dipping sauce was nothing special.

The service overall was hurried but efficient and not unpleasant. We both ordered hibachi chicken. That's uninspired, but we figured it's a hibachi place. They come with a two shrimp appetizer each. I told the waiter I was allergic to shrimp, and asked if I could have more vegetables or chicken (heaven forbid I asked for a spring roll) and fourth ding, he said they don't allow substitutions. He acted as if cooking my food away from seafood was doing me a favor.

Fifth ding, the dinners came out before we finished the appetizers, and Bob's was not what he ordered. He told the waiter he'd ordered hibachi, and the response was sixth ding, 1) didn't you really order teriyaki 2) isn't there a chance you will take it anyway? The meals themselves were nothing special. They reminded me of Asian food that is sold frozen in the supermarket. Seventh ding.

Every so often, the music was interrupted. I cannot remember what it was exactly, but something is vaguely telling me Carly Simon singing "You're So Vain" was one song. The interruption was the large groups of people reacting, loudly, to the antics at the cooking tables. One or two of the outbursts may have been rounds of Happy Birthday No Copyright Violation Hana Style. Eighth ding.

I told Bob it must be a chain. He thinks it is privately owned, but he also thinks it was the target of those ads a few years ago (or are they still on? No clue). Koto was making fun of inauthentic hibachi table techniques and marketed the Koto experience. I have been there and it is way better than Hana, but I say go to Shogun. No cooking tables at all, oh well. Fabulous food and atmosphere and downtown location


Thursday, December 27, 2012

The morning of shoveling wasn't quite as bad as I was anticipating. We got about 5" of snow overnight, and it didn't seem to have changed over to rain or mixed so it wasn't too heavy. The worst part was that the village plowed the road on to the sidewalk! 

Then it snowed moderately all day.  Round two of shoveling, the patio near the side door and the gate. If you saved the snow removal task for tonight, bad idea. Only about two more inches has fallen but it is wet and heavy. I did the sidewalk again and the village plow went by at what seemed to be 50 mph and threw filthy road snow on the sidewalk and splashed me. I'm not sure where the snow came from, as the road is clear. Thanks a lot! 
This is the first significant snow since we've had Rosie. She likes it! Not like Rudy -- his joyous rolling in snow is a memory that brings a smile, but she wades out in it happily, considering she's a little tiny and Sam used the opportunity to try out his herding skills on her.
The Samsonville tree is Charlie Brown all the way.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I always "sleep on" the grades before entering, so just now I finally finished that task. It's agonizing -- easily the most disliked task of teaching. Not only the physical exhaustion of the end of semester grading marathon (last night I got a carpal tunnel brace for my left hand), but the sometimes difficult decisions. First, there are the hard cases. How long to wait for the slackers to hand something in. How much to subtract for being soooo late. What to do about the emails appealing for special consideration. And, for the majority, the average and good students, what to do about the borderline A/A-, A-/B+. B+/B, etc. Their anticipation, the happiness generated by rounding up, the disappointment caused by not doing so. My every semester's end hope that the outcome was expected, or at least that disappointment does not lead to demands for clarification, but rather to resignation and acceptance.

I have jury duty January 7!




Gave Rosie-Posey and Sam Wham two gifts each last night. Posey had to be crated during the opening, of course. Can't take risks. Fingers crossed -- the question on our minds was "does she know how to open presents?" Dogs opening Christmas gift is one of those beloved times shared with pets. Sophie's last gift unwrapping -- last year -- is still the wallpaper on my phone.

Anyway, the answer to the question is yes! But she does not care about toys. The carrot bone was a big hit, though. She was so cute opening it! And, Sam was thrilled to get both toys. Now it's off to S'ville for Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I've been meaning to link to this wonderful curriculum from Loyola Press that we are using for faith formation class. Here is a sample of the art prints.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tomorrow I will upload them to the registrar's database, but I am essentially done with grading! YAY. Gave myself a carpal tunnel flare in my left hand in the process, oh well. Who cares, I am done! Just in time for the start of winter session (tomorrow).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can it be possible? I think I will be done with grades tomorrow...ssshhhhhh

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Starting to see a glimmer of daylight. It isn't that I'm nearly done. (I'm not.) But I really don't want to work Monday (deadline is 11:59 PM), or the weekend if I can avoid it. I wasn't sure whether that would be possible, though. But I am cautiously optimistic at this point.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm making good progress on grades, but I don't have the stamina for nonstop marathons any longer. I feel like a zombie after 10 hours. Oh no! I've become a slacker. Or too old for this. LOL.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I think she would look like the grinch's dog if she had an antler tied to her head. Isn't she so incredibly cute?

I think picture posts will have to suffice (and already have been sufficing) for a while -- drowning in grading!

The angels on my tree

 A girl in faith formation gave this first one to us for Christmas.






Saturday, December 15, 2012

Liberty, one of my mother's horses, died on Thursday. She was a 20-year-old miniature horse, which is not old for a horse, but she has Cushing's Disease fore several years and had been having trouble walking, and in pain recently. She was born there, on Independence Day in 1992. After April, the Morgan who passed away two years ago this month, she was Ma's favorite. December is a sad month; Liberty's mother also passed away in December from Cushing's. Liberty was spunky as a young horse, and personality-plus for her whole life. Ma says she has gone to heaven to be on a merry-go-'round up there. RIP Liberty Belle.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Family legend is that Bob's maternal grandfather (Opa) has a tree fall in his yard during the depression, and he cut it up and made Christmas wreaths. That started a tradition of wreath making in his family, which eventually expanded to grave blankets, and palm crosses at Easter time. When they were teenagers, it was not unusual for his brother and Bob to make 100 wreaths each per day. His family continues to make them on a much smaller scale, and as you can see, Bob has not lost any of his skills. This is our front door, and this year in particular, it is his tribute to Millie.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In faith formation class Monday night, we lit the Advent candles (but this time we played a CD of O Come Emmanuel instead of putting ourselves through the humiliation of singing), read the Christmas story from Luke, looked at a painting of the nativity, and Bob taught the kids how to make these centerpieces. Afterwards they proudly posed with their creations and we took their pictures. Now we have a break until January 7.

Last teaching day for Fall 2012 semester yesterday -- and last day on campus today (until January 24). Now the grading "fun" begins.

Friday, December 07, 2012

So much work to do! Yikes! Classes end 12/11, student work has to be in from 12/13-12/19 (I stupidly made an error on a due date and it was too late when I discovered it...so the 19th is for final papers in one class, oh well). The registrar informed us that grades have to be in 12/24! How ridiculous. But I did stay on task and make progress today so that's good. Winter session starts 12/21, and became accessible today -- a competing priority. The life of an adjunct, nonstop teaching!

Yesterday was one of those days with students where you wonder if there is full moon (I know there wasn't). One student who seems to have a social disorder was particularly rude, or maybe just weird. I know there is an issue and have made an effort to reach out and be inclusive. But I guess that was a waste of time. In my experience, it just makes odd balls dislike you more. Yet I have to keep trying. Anyway, this student could not understand extremely simple economics, and seemed to direct that annoyance at me, personally. The comment was (sort of directed at me, in the third person) "why would she make us figure out how much loans we have? I know how much loans I have." Putting aside that wasn't the point of the exercise...hello! I'm standing right here! Are you talkin' to me?

Another emailed a colleague (a fellow adjunct who caters to students as much or more than I do), with BCC to me: "I don't mean to offend, but I find your communication vague and unhelpful." Naturally, she was offended! And hurt. Why don't people think before hitting "send" or opening their big mouths? (It reminded me of this.) This student will most likely be in my summer class. Is there any way we can advise a different path? Hmmm..."no offense, can you drop?"

Finally, one minute before I had to rush off to class, a student suddenly appeared out of nowhere in my door. I barely knew who the student was, since attendance has been, well, atrocious. Bad in September and October -- missed more than half the classes -- and completely vanished in November and December. The student said nothing, instead handing me a big packet of information. What was it? Paperwork for me to fill out and deliver to undergraduate studies, approving a late withdrawal, although weeks ago I warned the student about the deadline for withdrawing. (What choice do I really have, though? But are you kidding me?)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

We got our tree from the boy scouts on Sunday and put it up, also decorated the porch. We have lights on the tree, but nothing else. I do plan to put ornaments on but I am kind of liking it with only lights!

Faith formation on Monday went pretty well. We lit a candle on the Advent wreath, sang O Come Emmanuel a Capella (which sounded atrocious -- definitely not singers!), studied the art easel -- this week was a Russian painting from 1863 called "Waiting for Christmas," read from the Action Bible, and made prayer books. Three kids decided to wrap them as gifts for their mothers. A parent met us in the parking lot and told us how much her son loves our class!

End of semester -- bittersweet! Happy and sad at the same time. So much work to do. Today I took some time to get organized. It was worthwhile in terms figuring out what I have to do, so I guess I am less overwhelmed. Winter session class has 14 students enrolled, and will become accessible on Friday (although it doesn't officially start until the 21st).

I'm very excited to be teaching a graduate class this summer! But I am having to force myself to focus on what I have to do now for fall semester's end. Also winter session and spring will be here before summer so chill...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Snow! Just a coating -- enough to cover the ground, maybe 3/4 of an inch. But it looks so pretty! (And I am kicking myself for procrastinating on poop patrol yesterday :-(

Thursday, November 29, 2012

So happy!! My father, Bob, my brother and sister made a trip to Boston today for the post-surgical follow-up. We all know he is doing well, but it is wonderful to have it confirmed by MGH. The best part of all, he does not need radiation! Just MRI in six months (and I assume routinely every so often after that).

I am still on campus. I went to campus center to get something to eat just now, planned to sit in Tim Horton's and have dinner. Alas, it was closed. So I brought the food back to my office. Couldn’t see myself sitting  at a table, everyone appeared to be at least two decades younger than me or even more. How did I ever get thru grad school? During the day time it isn't quite as obvious as there are others around who have seen more than eight semesters! LOL.

The low point of the day, a note informing me the suspension was lifted and now I have to work with the student (from yesterday's post) so he can catch up on the work he missed. WTF? Then, he blew off class anyway. But, who cares? Nothing can put a damper on this glorious day, not being a "weird lady," not wishing for maple pecan danish, not slackers in fake fraternities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In general, I think the TU salivates over bad publicity for UA (such as kegs 'n' eggs, which naturally they couldn't resist referencing), but in this case, the two questions they ask in this editorial have been on my mind as well:

What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

One of the nine dumb asses from this fake fraternity charged with a crime is in one of my classes. He asked to get into class after it was closed, and I let him in. But of course! He's personable, confident and participatory, although his attendance has been lacking, and he constantly emails or tells me at the next class that he has been sick. Even before this outrageous incident, I had to bite my tongue to resist saying, "yes, I know. It's called a hangover." He is prohibited from coming to campus or having any contact with me pending a hearing. The university does not usually get involved in off-campus crime, but hazing is a specific violation. 

These are not kids, despite the stunning immaturity and seriously bad judgment. We cut 20-somethings far too much slack, we make far too many excuses, and we extend childhood for far too long. These are men! Pathetic men, yes, but men just the same.

What's most alarming to me is not really the astonishingly sick behavior of the nine perpetrators, shocking and appalling as that may be. There are surely a-holes in this world of all ages, and I run across them from time to time. But the fake pledges, those 18-year-old victims. Are they so desperate for acceptance, so lacking in confidence that they were willing to submit to this? Did they not have the common sense to know it was dangerous, that they might even be hurt or killed? What is wrong with them? And if they are so weak, why are they not still at home in their childhood bedrooms, watched over by helicopter parents?

Unfortunately, if experience is any guide, I have a feeling that the parents of the nine losers will vigorously defend their precious babies, claim innocence, extenuating circumstances, or police brutality and try to save them from taking any responsibility for their actions.

One consolation, I would be even more outraged if this idiot was in my other class. In that one I spend a lot of time on moral education, ethics, honesty and character.
What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Editorial-At-UAlbany-horrors-of-hazing-4042115.php#ixzz2DY2CABbl
What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Editorial-At-UAlbany-horrors-of-hazing-4042115.php#ixzz2DY2CABbl
What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Editorial-At-UAlbany-horrors-of-hazing-4042115.php#ixzz2DY2CABbl

Monday, November 26, 2012

 All leaves are on the ground -- except for this tree! Nothing short of a miracle given how windy it has been.
Some of the herbs are still hanging in there.

Thanksgiving was very nice, as was the weekend overall. The pie was not perfect, by my standards -- too much liquid and a touch too sweet. Everyone else disagreed, but I guess I must be channeling Mimmie.

Back to the grind! But only 2.5 weeks left of on campus duties, yay.

We watched "Lady Eve," an old Henry Fonda / Barbara Stanwyck movie, over the weekend. It was atrocious!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Making Apple Pie and Thinking of You

Today I made traditional apple pie for Thanksgiving. It was the first pie I've made in a year or since last Christmas anyway. I like to make apple pie, and often make one or more for holidays. It is one of my favorite desserts at any time, but in recent years I buy them here for all except special occasions. (The apples for this pie did come from there, we bought a half-bushel.)

I use a Cutco peeler to pare the apples, and it was a gift from Millie. Apple pie is one of my "signature" dishes, and she gave me many utensils over the years, including decorative pie plates and an apple coring machine -- but none as useful as the Cutco peeler. Last time I made a pie, I was sending one of them down to Long Island. But not this year.

Last time I made a pie, Sophie begged for the apple peels, cores, and pieces of apple. She would even grab a whole apple out of the bag and eat it. I've had two dogs in my life, Sophie and Howie, who loved apples and spent the entire time I was baking waiting nearby, barking impatiently at times, cheating the compost. But not this year.

Bob and I came up with a poem to capture Sophie's love of pie:

Ode to Pie

Pie, Pie, Pie
Pie for dinner
Pie for lunch
Pie for breakfast
Pie for brunch
Pie in the morning
Pie at night
Pie when you're hungry
Pie when you're full
Pie for a snack
Pie for a meal
Pie, Pie, Pie

I always think of Mimmie when I bake for the holidays, and this year is no different. Is the pie perfect? Did the dough roll out just right? Are the apples just right?

You be the judge.



My recipe:

Crust
2 C flour
1 t salt
2/3 C butter
6 T water

Filling
7 cooking apples
1 scant C sugar
1 scamt t cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
2 T flour
2 T butter,

Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake ~50 minutes @ 400 degrees.


Making apple pie today! Meeting friends here tonight, headed to Samsonville tomorrow.

Exciting things coming professionally...(stay tuned).

Happy Thanksgiving!
I was reading some animal quotes and came across this one that resonated:

Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.
--John Galsworthy

Monday, November 19, 2012

Feeling happy! I'm a little ashamed to admit it probably has more to do with not having to go to campus for a week than anything else. But that means progress on the end of semester workload, and it allows me a little procrastination time too!

We watched two great old movies recently. One was Penny Serenade (great title) and the other, recommended by netflix because we watched that one, was No Man of Her Own (a horrible title that would have caused me to skip it if it didn't appear as "recommended." They were not the typical light fare from those days, more like indie (although they weren't), circa 1950. But that was the flavor. Both were pretty dark, and the first raised a lot of questions, good flick for discussion and thought. The second was almost a thriller, very suspenseful.

Recently I had my orthotics adjusted -- have not had that done since '06. They arrived in the mail on Friday. The change was significant. Painful. Even excruciating at times. Oww! But I can tell it is exactly what I need and once they are broken in, I will be in much better shape with my balance, stability and walking. Yay. Maybe even able to do something that has been only  fond memory since '09, hike again someday? (Talk about really jumping the gun.) 

Yesterday, our Castleton church had a ceremony honoring everyone who died from 11/2/11-11/2/12. Bob was called up to the altar to light a candle for Millie. (Miss her.) It was said hearing all the names (a lot) and remembering, but also very nice. I remembered Sophie too. RIP Weg!

And in West Shokan, my father attended church for the first time since his surgery. He has also gained 6 pounds back of the 18 he lost. Yay again!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I ordered a new toaster oven from amazon just now. The one in Castleton stopped working several days ago. For at least the past 20 years, toaster ovens have sucked. In the '80s I had a great one that was a wedding present. It may have been a GE, but I can't remember. It worked for many years. The door popped open and the shelf came out when the item was heated or toasted. It was simple, it didn't have a bunch of dials. Unfortunately, years ago it vanished from the universe of consumer items and when it was worn out, it couldn't be replaced with a similar model.

As I recall for a while before it completely broke, the door pop up mechanism had to be fiddled with when closing the door. Maybe that flaw was the reason they stopped making it. Or maybe all the convenience junk food our society now eats demands a different appliance. So I'm not sure what happened in the world of toaster oven design and function, but it is impossible to find one that is satisfactory (the bar is pretty low: reliable, works well, doesn't burn your hand every time you use it).

We're restricted in Castleton to a shelf that is 17" X 10", but I don't think size matters. Cost doesn't seem to make a difference either. I hate the one in Samsonville (a large, pricey Krups) just as much or more than any toaster I've had, and I was pretty apathetic about the one that just broke in Castleton (a small inexpensive Cooks brand). Considered a smashing ceremony a la Office Space before Bob toted it to the landfill this morning, but rejected the idea. It's very appealing for the Krups when its time is done, though. (Just have to wait until it breaks since I never replace something that is still working. Including only sort of working.)

I thought about ditching the oven idea and going with a regular toaster, also was almost sold on a small Black & Decker, but finally settled on a Hamilton Beach that is both a toaster and a toaster oven. I fully accept that multi-appliances are almost always a disappointment, so I assume we will complain about this unit after it comes, too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Finally making progress on the to do list! Yay.

It's been a week since I last posted. I rarely go that long even if it's only a picture or a few lines. So that gives you an idea of how busy I've been. I guess, with my "blue" attitude, I must have let things build up. I didn't think I was slacking. Truth is, I just wasn't working like crazy. That's how it can be, when there are assignments to be graded. If you don't spend more than a full day here and there, but instead cut if off at a reasonable hour and take off weekends -- it piles up. Kind of a "duh," I know. Americans love working and are used to there being few boundaries.

My father's surgery was 6 weeks ago this past Wednesday. He had a bout with pneumonia a week after her came home from the hospital, but he is recovered. On Monday he woke up and announced that he wanted to go to the Veteran's Day ceremony held by his American Legion post. So we did! It was his first excursion away from home, aside from doctor's visits. All were surprised and happy to see him.

I've been wanting to post this story.  There are a couple shots of my father in the front row of the audience (also my mother and me, a couple rows back) in the video. He has on his leather jacket, and Ma and I are wearing shades. The videographer must have been invisible, I didn't even know they were there.

Unfortunately, his follow-up in Boston was canceled and rescheduled from this past Thursday to the 29th, but he has gained back two pounds of the 18 he lost, his hair is almost back to normal, and all in all, everything is going well. On Monday I heard him telling people that he found out there is nothing on Pluto (that's where he went during his seven hour surgery).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Spent the afternoon on campus. Fridays have such a different atmosphere. Quieter, but lots of personal chatter. Nothing to do with that necessarily, but my office is freezing! Do they shut off the heat or what?

We will eventually be moving into the school of business building, once they move to their new digs and the old building is renovated. Not sure what will happen with education. Maybe they will move administrative offices out of the dorms (that they have taken over). I hope I get nicer space. I'm not complaining -- my office is OK, but in "my former life" I had lush environs. I won't have my hopes up, though, and then I won't be disappointed.

Some annoyances have arisen with my classes -- falls in the arena of slacker students. Today is the deadline to drop a class, and so I did something I don't usually bother with -- I told the deadbeats to drop. A couple actually did, after arguing (unsuccessfully) their POV. The others did not bother to dignify my advice with a response.

I'm usually a cup half full type person, but I have been feeling rather "blue." I won't say depressed because that's too clinical. 2012 has not been a banner year for me. It's been one thing after another, and at the moment it feels as if even a tiny irritation could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. As a result, I'm having to struggle to stay afloat work-wise, and I am not feeling all that motivated. There are numerous things right now (some serious and some trivial) burdening me. Most are not things I write here, and whether I break that guideline at some point remains to be seen. Cryptic, sorry.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I feel the nor'easter coming. At this point the forecast doesn't look that bad, but the first snow of the season is always difficult, in that people drive like jerks. And in this case, it is hard to get the folks who are still without power, and those who have damaged homes, off my mind.

Later: Seems so cold here. What doesn't help...recently, Sophie's license renewal came in the mail, and today, as I was paying my bills, I had to check the box "deceased" on the form and get it ready to send back. Feeling so very sad!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I know, I know...they weren't always accurate, they weren't modern, they weren't efficient, the records weren't good enough, blah, blah, blah. But I still miss you, lever voting machine. The click of the little levers...scanning the top for ballot initiatives...trying to write upside down during a write in campaign...the turquoise curtain...the loud snap of the big red lever in the beginning and end. Still can't get used to the scantron system. RIP.


In Sandy news, still a lot of people hurting. Gas shortages, in the dark, and now the cold.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Today was the 125th anniversary Mass at church followed by brunch. The bishop was there. It was a very nice day.

More and more are getting their power back, but some communities are still in bad shape. But strong!! It is getting cold, though. And a nor'easter is predicated for later this week.  Bob visited family on LI yesterday. He took the Bridgeport ferry, and reports that gas lines are a reality all the way out in eastern Long Island. I've heard that people are coming farther and farther north as well -- all the way to Greene County. 1970s redux!

Friday, November 02, 2012


Last night, inspired by this journaling exercise, I had student do a five minute free write on two prompts:

1) Recall a time from your own schooling when you felt especially included, engaged, appreciated, and validated
(2) Recall a situation when you felt especially excluded, alienated, and invalidated from school

Then I invited them to share, with "thank you" being the only class response permitted. This is my vision -- to the second prompt, obviously.

They discussed the free write with their groups before they shared with the whole class, and one comment about the group dialogue was that most of the stories were about elementary school even though feelings of alienation are common in college classes. They speculated, is it easier to reflect on something when time passes and distance has been achieved?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For some reason our power was out for three hours yesterday. Not sure why, but we did have 3-4 brownouts during the height of the storm, so maybe they shut it down on purpose to make a repair. That was the extent of the impact on my house in Castleton. In Samsonville, still no power, and the pool cover was ripped off and is in the water. Seems obnoxious to complain when so many lost everything, or live in places where there are few resources to be self-sufficient. Halloween...I do have candy on hand, and I made an effort to make the porch semi-respectable, but so far no trick or treaters. [Later: they started coming soon after I wrote this.] [Still later: We had more kids this year than we've had in at least the past five. The groups were huge! I was afraid we would run out of candy -- but didn't quite. We shut the lights out at 8:30.]

I was thinking about TB/TC (my marvelous cat Teddy) because he came from south NJ, just about where the storm made landfall. I wonder how the couple is who gave him away. He spends many hours in the day time outside, weather permitting, and even sometimes when it is lightly raining. He LOVES it. It is another of the many ways he is similar to Edna. There was no keeping her inside, even though I did not want her to be an outdoor cat. She wasn't, did not spend nights out there, but she had to go outside or she became grouchy and she would do her best to slip outside when the door was opened. In her case, she jumped the fence and went wherever she wanted. That's the reason her being out made me nervous. But, no harm came to her, and she always came back when called. To say my house is a good place for cats is an understatement. The yard is one story below street level, it backs up a deep ravine that has a cemetery on the other side, and so Edna never went in the front of  the house near the road.

Teddy can't get out of the fence, both because he does not seem inclined to try, and because he was declawed when I adopted him. I believe cat declawing (like dog ear and tail docking) to be cruel animal abuse, and it is something I would never have done. My vet shares the philosophy and would not agree to do it. I think in Teddy's case it was especially mean, as it was done when he was an adult -- five years old, in fact. But I admit that his lack of claws means no jumping and escaping from the yard, and so I can let him stay out there as long as his heart desires without a bit of worry.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Hudson flooded a bit, and the wind howled, but all my services stayed on. All of my family in the Catskills are without power, internet and telephone -- trees are down everywhere so it will probably take a long time to restore. (Don't get me started on how irritated this makes me since there is still no cell service in Samsonville! So no communication with my parents once again.) Bob's brother was evacuated in Hoboken, lost power and there is some water in his place. Out on Long Island, his father lost power for a while but it has already been restored. It's still rather windy, but I am on campus today. It seems quiet -- some students may be away, and others with no electricity may have opted to stay home, but otherwise, everything is operating normally. I see the media has stopped labeling it last week's "frankenstorm" in favor of "superstorm Sandy."

Sam was oblivious -- just wanted to play fetch (as usual), but Rosie and TB/TC were shaken by the wind noise. Or maybe they were just competing for the blanket...

Monday, October 29, 2012

This is more a windstorm than a flood for us, unlike Irene, but the Hudson is surging (allegedly, I did not walk down to check) because the Long Island Sound is backing up into it. Schools closed early so catechism was canceled, classes were also canceled (but i don't teach on Mondays anyway). So far I still have electricity and DSL. And telephone, because my "landline" is home phone connect, which uses the cell tower rather than wire. And, of course, my regular cell is working (mostly, I have an unrelated tech issue that will take a visit to the store to resolve since phone support couldn't figure it out). West Shokan, Olivebridge and Samsonville are without power, but I think the cable is still working, at least for now. I unplugged my femocell before we left last night, to protect it from a power surge. At $250, I didn't want to risk it. The night is still young, so stay tuned. Or not, if my power goes out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I think everyone is extra apprehensive about "Frankenstorm" because of Hurricane Irene last August. Will Sandy + a nor'easter + an arctic blast be even worse? I am so glad we spent two weekends getting the Castleton yard in shape. Another half-hour or so of work, and there will be no hazards remaining. This weekend, we will have to tackle Samsonville. It isn't a big deal, only some lawn furniture on the deck and patio. (We closed the pool three weeks ago -- very late! But the weekend in September when it was on the agenda was the weekend my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and there was no way we were doing it until he was home after surgery.) We also have to hunt and gather survival supplies for next week: candles, lamp oil, etc. Kerosene? Will it be that cold? There is always the risk that it will be much ado about nothing -- but better safe than sorry. Not one to complain when they get it wrong and there was minimal impact: that's when to be relieved, who cares if I have extra candles. Much better outcome than the storm being worse than predicted.

Added: State of Emergency declared.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I've settled on my single issue. I suspect it is an area where I am out of step with the culture (so what else is new), but here goes. Return falling behind to when it was in the past -- sometime in early October, I think. I also wish springing ahead was somewhat later, as it used to be, but on that point I am somewhat negotiable. But I hate, hate, hate the way fake time conflicts with my personal physical clock (aka true time) at this time of year. I feel ill for a few weeks until we go back to real time. Unite! Stop the DST madness now! (Or else de-friend me, LOL.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Uh-oh. Is this going to be the next block of New Scotland to be leveled? I hope the building can be spared.
Today I noticed an article making the rounds on facebook that asks to be de-friended on fb and un-followed on twitter by any friend or follower who plans to vote for Romney.  The demand was accompanied by a passionate argument for why the writer wants this.

The item didn't cause me to do anything, aside from reading the "liked" blog post. I (practically) never mix it up with anyone on fb. I have, on occasion, hidden individual posts so I didn't have to see them again (pictures of hunting "takes" [yes, euphemism] come to mind); I've also hidden all game reports of the farmville variety, and all except important items from friends who post endless strings of jpeg cliches or only write rants that are offensive to me in some way.

But I've never considered demanding that someone de-friend me. It is so passive-aggressive. Why would the writer expect someone to take this action and reveal information that we have to right to keep private? And if the target audience is not keeping their political preferences secret, but instead posting items the writer finds offensive, why don't they do the de-friending, if they want to take a more extreme step than simply hiding objectionable material? I don't get it.

Due to my interest in toleration, I am always surprised when I encounter viewpoints that are absent respect for pluralism. I also wonder, is the "liker" also asking to be de-friended? Or is it just a thoughtless like, as mine are on a cute cat picture or new seasonal menu announcement from a favorite restaurant?

I'd never mix it up on fb, as I mentioned, but it is oh-so-tempting to do a de-friending, but not to signify voting intentions, including whether I plan to vote at all or write in Mickey Mouse, all of which are my business and no-one else's unless I feel like sharing. I am tempted to take such action just to add to the writer's palpable angst. Or maybe a better strategy would be to one-up the egotistical outrage and demand de-friending if the reader intends to remodeled an outdated kitchen or buy a new sofa or fly in an airplane for vacation, because those acts are wasting resources and conflict with my 100% pure and true anti-materialist value system.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is the view from the back of the house right now. Yellow isn't my favorite color, but I have to admit: this is glorious!
Kateri Tekekwitha was canonized as a saint yesterday in Rome, so we went to her birthplace at Ossernenon (the Auriesville shrine) for a Mass to celebrate. Lots of people there. Some were descendants of indigenous peoples, and a few wore traditional clothing. The whole experience was amazing. Wonderful day. I will go back there again on a "regular" day because it was too hard to be leisurely and "soak it all in" with the crowds.
The whole place has a 1930s log feel, except for the gift shop, which is 1960s Thruway hot shoppe. The above statue is in the coliseum; it is St. Kateri, the Lily of the Mohawk.

Afterwards, we ate at Raindancer. Good place!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sam is howling at the noon fire siren. Such a mournful sound!

Tomorrow we are headed to Auriesville for a Mass to celebrate the canonization of Blessed Kateri.

Today...household tasks...the weather permits yard work and walking the dogs in the cemetery.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My classes are going well (hard to believe the semester is half over already), but one thing that is a struggle is that they are very quiet -- the foundations classes in particular. Getting them to participate is like pulling teeth. They do not seem to be all that engaged even by peer questions. In the night class, I assume the hope is being let out early, but in the afternoon section, that can't be it. I will have to do some thinking on ways to fire them up. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Took advantage of the nice day and weed whacked. It is still damp outside but I also emptied some of the tomato containers near the fence. The fence is hanging together on a lick and a promise -- it badly needs replacement now that we have Rosie, who is a scamp. Keeps us busy -- in Samsonville, the fence is in good shape but it was designed for larger dogs, not little teeny beagles. She isn't as obsessed with getting out in Castleton, luckily. The fence here would be very easy for her to slip through if she worked at it. Not solely due to the large dog thing -- it is wooden and getting to be in bad shape. Some sections need replacement. It's on "the list" that never ends, and who knows when the task will ascend to the top bullet. I am constantly fussing over it, locating trouble spots, doing rube goldberg repairs on gaps where she could escape. As I mentioned, fortunately she doesn't try very hard here. The rabbits must be farther away than in Samsonville (where they are under the sheds and on ledges right next to the fence).

Professionally, I've been working on some articles for a magazine for charter school leaders. The assignment sort of fell in my lap unexpectedly, on the day of my father's surgery. So far, I think it will be a rewarding experience. I'm also going to teach winter session again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The weekend dried out, so yard work was on the agenda. We had a killing frost Friday night, so even though it has been warm-ish since then, I took down the garden fence, dumped the hanging baskets and window boxes. The end of the growing season brings a lot of bittersweet tasks. I harvested the basil (and three cucumbers), but am hoping to save the remaining herbs for a while.

Yesterday I did poop patrol -- the recent rain makes that an "ewwww" -- but it was too wet to weed whack. And, I still have to empty the container plants before the snow flies.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

For catechism class tomorrow, we are going to focus on St. Francis. There are several good picture books for children that focus on his relationship with animals, but I didn't plan far enough in advance to buy one and I am not sure whether they are in any library's collection so I could borrow one. Oh well. Maybe next year. Tomorrow the coloring pages we have and materials from the internet will have to do. We are collecting pictures of their pets from the kids to make a display and also they are bringing in donations of canned people and pet foods for the local food pantry.

On a completely unrelated subject, we've been having fun watching this on youtube via our roku:


Both of us remember this from childhood, as well as his editorials on the Smothers' Brothers show. We thought it was a riot, although we also both are not sure whether we also believed it was "real."

Friday, October 12, 2012

On Tuesday I lugged items from my one room schools collection to class. It's kind of a hassle (my classes are pretty far from my office) and I never know if it will be worthwhile. I always bring books and documents with me, but this semester I added some of the object I have, including a student's slate and an inkwell. The above blackboard is the teacher's, and it is made from painted wood. It would be cumbersome to take it to campus, so I just showed them this picture. 

I brought them back from Samsonville when we were on the way to Boston (never wanted to risk them with the dogs in the car). Afterwards a student came up to me and said how much she loved seeing them and appreciated that I brought them in, then asked if she could help me carry them back to my office! How nice, there are other young people in this world who were raised right. Next semester I will bring my suitcase with wheels to cart them, and maybe I can add a few more.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

My father, sister and BIL have been in Boston since yesterday. He had pre-operative testing, and his surgery is tomorrow. My mother and brother are going out tomorrow, and Bob & I are going on Thursday. My other brother will keep all the animals happy in Samsonville while we are gone. Please pray for a successful procedure and swift recovery.

My sister reports, on the secret facebook group page she has set up, that he thinks he will be visiting Pluto or Mars and he will tell us all about it when he gets back tomorrow night!

Bob & I had our first catechism class last night. We focused on Kateri Tekekwitha. I brought corn muffin snacks, and they were thrilled. One boy asked me, "why are there no drinks with this snack?" [oops]. A girl asked us to bring chocolate chip muffins next time. Some unexpected excitement: there was a mouse in the room! We had fun, and I think the kids did, too. At times I had an image of "Kindergarten Cop." LOL. 25 college students is definitely easier (though somewhat less fun) than 9 third and fourth graders.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I have written many times before that only a handful of the students I have in my classes are unethical -- or slackers. Unfortunately those two groups take an enormous amount of energy and too often overshadow the remaining students, most of whom are perfectly capable. And then there are a small number, though larger than the slackers and cheaters, who are truly wonderful. I shared my recent situation with my students yesterday, and also met with the three who will be handling my classes next week. Many well-wishes, and the three who will be substitutes are excited by the prospect. One student even stopped me after class to tell me that his mom had a brain tumor removed eight years ago, she is perfectly fine and he knows my father will be too. What amazing young people! It gives me hope for the future.

My I hate September theme: Forgot to mention last post that 9/25 was the 7th anniversary of Rudy's death. RIP, Mr. Wuj. Miss you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just came in from weed whacking (it so needed it) and picking tomatoes. I've managed to get coverage for two of my three on campus classes next week, and I am waiting to confirm the third. The online class is pretty much on auto-pilot, provided I get it ready by Friday (which I would have to do anyway). So my schedule is clear for going to Samsonville and Boston. Feeling very optimistic (and occasionally, panicky).

On Monday, our catechism class starts. Turns out it will be a combined grades 3 & 4 class. The following week we have the Columbus Day holiday, which is good, as I anticipate coming back to Castleton from Samsonville on that day.

Last night we attended a class called the Spiritual Journal at the church. It was great! We wrote three posts, and if we wanted to, read them aloud and / or discussed the process. I chose to read one of mine. The prompt was write about something you did today:

September 24, 2012. Today I wrote in my "other" journal - the one I have been keeping since March 1, 2002. Today's entry was just a photo of the fruits of my garden, as it winds down into early fall. Some tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and one pitiful zucchini that I am so proud of. Reason being I never have any luck with zucchini in my Castleton garden, even though most other veggies thrive. I also revised yesterday's post, which was a long one. I have to revise long posts because for the past ten years I have written publicly, and that means the internal censor kicks in. There are some things I cannot write about in my public journal. That one has more rules than privately writing on paper. There are pluses and minuses to this - some creativity and venting gets lost, but on the other hand, it doesn't have to be burned afterwards, as a paper journal may have to be. Wow, writing with a pen is tiring!! 

Recently, I noticed in referrer logs that I get often get visits from people searching for two things:

1) Mass times at St. Augustine's in West Shokan. So, if you land here searching for that information, Sunday Mass it at 9:30 AM and holy days are 5:30 PM.

2) Whether the Carol Burnett show is on roku. If that's why you are here, the answer is I have not found any full episodes. However, if you download playon.tv, you can search and watch youtube, and there are many clips of all favorite skits, in fact to watch them all it would take hours or days.

Monday, September 24, 2012

As promised! The garden is winding down, but still producing. And zuke is little -- but a victory.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live. There is but one reasonable explanation of it. The intellect is stunned by the shock and but gropingly gathers the meaning of the words. The power to realize their full import is mercifully lacking. - Mark Twain's Autobiography (writing about his daughter Suzy Clemens' death).

I've read the autobiography many times; it is my favorite book by my favorite author. There are many sentences, paragraphs and anecdotes within it that resonate. This quote has been running through my mind for the past week. Last Saturday morning, we rushed my father to the hospital because we thought he was having a stroke. Turns out it was not a stroke, but instead he has a brain tumor called a meningioma.

It's very serious of course, but not quite as bad as it sounds at first -- it is not something that spread from somewhere else but instead it is something that he had had for many, many years, apparently a lot of people have them and they do not cause symptoms and do not need to be treated if they are not causing symptoms. It is not "in" his brain, but on the surface in the membrane. Also, at 85 he is in excellent health and has no other issues. So they were able to stabilize him with medication, his symptoms went away, and he came home from the hospital Tuesday (my birthday, certainly one I will never forget). He has a slight speech issue, although no worse than many people his age, and you would never know something was wrong with him.  A big victory happened yesterday -- my brother threw a reception for his daughter, who married her partner over the summer and my father did not want to miss it. And he didn't!



Friday, September 14, 2012

More campus construction -- this is the new school of business building.

I didn't post yesterday, but wanted to note that it would have been Mimmie's 108th birthday! I thought about her all day. I am working on turning A Visit with Mimmie into a kindle book...stay tuned.

2012 continues to dish out sad milestones. I found out that a friend and former co-worker Nancy died yesterday. She was about 67, I think. She had not been well for about the past 5 years. I last saw her in December 2010. She was a nice and gracious person, and was often my walking companion on the trek up State Street at lunch time. RIP Nancy. I'm sure there was a party waiting for you in heaven.

Added: Another great column.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No chance to post yesterday, but on Monday night I scanned some photos I took in 1997 on a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, on my 36th birthday. It seems like longer ago than 15 years, while eleven years ago seems like yesterday.

Monday, September 10, 2012

As always, I am contemplating how I can bring the herbs inside as soon as the frost threatens. It was a little crisp this morning, but no where near freezing yet. Bright blue September day. (Also the 17th anniversary of Howie's death...howzerdo or just "do.")
Offspring of Little Shop of Horrors have sprouted everywhere. This little guy was in the middle of the lawn. I dug it out in the hope of having an inside tomato plant.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Spent another four dollars for an amazon movie on roku -- this time, The Perfect Family. We chose it solely because of Kathleen Turner, whom we both like. She has aged a lot since I last saw one of her movies, and also gained some weight. Neither is a criticism; I admire her for aging naturally and gracefully. She is still lovely, although they did their best to make her appear frumpy, and she pulls it off. It was an OK movie I guess, but only because she is a good actress. Apart from that, the movie's message was Hollywood's understanding of Catholics: they are unhappy, unforgiving, unenlightened, vain -- oh, and by the way -- hypocrites too. Plus, there are no "cool" clergy. But it did have a happy ending, and her family loves one another. So it's all good. (Not really.)

Here in the real world, I'm very excited to build a lesson plan on Kateri Tekakwitha for the 4th/5th grade catechism class Bob and I are going to co-teach this year.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Staying in Castleton, so no barn duty this weekend. We took the dogs to the cemetery for a walk, and then to the local Stewart's for a treat. When Sophie was alive, that usually meant an eggwich. However, at the location in our village, there is a day time employee we call "the eggwich bitch." In all other Stewart''s I've every patronized, the associates bend over backwards to make customers happy. They keep the hot box full of eggwiches and burgers and the coffee fresh. But our eggwich bitch seems to hate making them, and resents all who want to buy one. They must sell the least volume in eggwiches of any shop in the chain. Today I see the sandwich board in the parking lot says eggwiches and coffee combos are fifty cents off. Must be the eggwich bitch is on vacation this week.

Added Sunday: this morning, again no eggwiches. I didn't plan to buy one, but some other customers were asking, and were told they were being made. But they left empty handed. The eggwich bitch was no where in sight, but it seems she has created an anti-eggwich work culture.

Friday, September 07, 2012

This week I had lunch at the Patroon Room with someone I hadn't seen in about 15 years. She asked me, kind of out of the blue, whether I find my job rewarding? The question took me by surprise. At the time I wondered if she was judging me. I was wearing a tie dye tee shirt and bright pink capri pants. I'm so not where I was when we were peers in class. I have a great memory, and 15 or 20 years ago still resonates on occasion, but actually seeing her again made that reflection all the more powerful. When we were both students, she was full time, GA supported. Doted on by the faculty. Hung out in study groups where they memorized every nuance of the literature in preparation for the comps. I was one class per semester, wearing a suit, running to class from Western Avenue where the bus dumped me out, often late if the class was 4:15 since my System Administration ball & chain did its level best to keep me inside the velvet trap, and off CDTA bus 10. I was invisible to most faculty, and truth be told, kind of liked it that way. Did my funded peers covet my situation? I always felt they disdained it. Or maybe they were just afraid of me.

The question was polite, it was a friendly conversation. We had a lot of fun gossiping. But I wondered, is she thinking how could I chuck the ladder and excitement to become a mellow, spacey hippie? I didn't think about it a lot before I said that I love teaching and that is the part of my job I find most rewarding. I told her the only downside is being an adjunct, but I don't worry about security at all. After ten years being fired seems unlikely, and even if it happened, I'd land on my feet.

Afterwards I thought about it some more, and wondered whether she was not asking me because she questions my motivation, but because she is soul searching her own choices and future. Clearly the stress of running fast takes its toll.

I thought about it some more and decided even when my "cohort" was hanging out in the study lounge and I was dragging my ball and chain to class, I was the hippie.

An quasi-unrelated aside: Now I figured everyone knows I am too young to have been a hippie. But yesterday, one of my students said to me while explaining a contemporary band and protest music: "you're from the sixties, you understand..." I didn't bother to correct him, didn't say "hey buddy, I am a decade too young to be 'from the sixties' except as a baby" -- but that took me by surprise too. LOL moment (in my head).

Added: A funny moment, the blast from the past and I were discussing a person we both know, and I summed it up suddenly: "he has little man syndrome." This so surprised and tickled her. She may have forgotten how fearless I am in my discourse.
As a result of this post, I was asked about a cost comparison. Both districts are in NYSED's similar schools category of "average need / resource capacity." In 2009-10 [the most recent year of data], districts in this category spent $18,262 per student (while all schools in NYS spent $19,921 / student). Similar schools spent $9,695 per general education student, and $26,949 per special education student (compared to $11,105 per general education student and $26,888 per special education student at all schools in NYS). The classification rate for students with special needs at similar schools was 12.3%, and at all NYS schools it was 13%. At Schodack: $18,715 / student total; $8,932 for general education; $26,067 for special education; 14.7% classification rate.

Now hang on to your hat...At OCS: $30,747 / student total; $15,495 general education; $40,128 special education; 17% classification rate. In terms of performance, all of Schodack's schools are in "good standing." At OCS, the high school, Bennett and Woodstock ES are in "good standing." The junior high and Phoenicia ES are labeled in need of improvement (year 1).

But the most shocking statistic to me is that Schodack's graduation rate was 95% for the cohort entering ninth grade in 2006; OCS had a grad rate of 81%, and so did not meet the aspirational goal set for students completing HS in 5 years (95%).

How's this for a punchline? (My mother loves this commercial):

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I made french fries with some of those wonderful potatoes from the garden. (We had baked potatoes Monday night -- very versatile crop!) The french fries plus tomato sandwiches were dinner last night! Love the harvest...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

I wanted to wait until I had my tax bills, pencil and calculator in hand before commenting. (They arrived Saturday but I wasn't home.) For OCS, it comes to a 2.7% increase over last year (slightly more than reported in the article.) For Schodack, it is an increase of 3.8% over last year (although overall the OCS bill is 56% higher than the one for Schodack). However neither is over the 2% tax cap. I must need to sharpen my pencil and get a new calculator. Or maybe this is "new math?"


The Schodack newsletter explains it this way: "the law requires school districts to use an eight-step formula to determine how much they can increase their tax levy by. As a result, most school districts can raise their tax levies by more than 2% and still be within the tax cap.The reason is the state’s formula allows exemptions for certain school expenditures that are outside a district’s control – such as contributions to the state retirement system – as well as allowances for growth in a community’s tax base. In Schodack CSD, the state allows the district to increase its tax levy by 2.47% and still be within the cap. The district decided to raise the tax levy by that amount to reduce the level of cuts that would be required to programs." 
OCS newsletter says "The Board of Education has adopted a budget that contains a ZERO percent increase to the tax levy. This does not mean that each individual tax bill will remain unchanged from last year."
But I am just being funny, not really expecting a comprehensible explanation. Reconciling the much-touted 2% with reality reminds me of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Stealing a few minutes to write briefly about one of the things that has been pending. We watched the movie Bernie on roku via amazon (4 bucks). It is an entertaining and often funny movie, very clever. Shirley MacLaine, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey were all great. But it left me feeling very unsettled afterwards. Again, a bit of the biopic hatchet job, although this time not of the title character, who was portrayed as the hero, very sympathetically. Instead, it was the ultimate of blaming the victim. Spoiler alert: is it really appropriate, tasteful or ethical (forget kind) to produce a movie that makes light of a 30-something charismatic man seducing (emotionally if not physically) and murdering an 81-year-old woman by shooting her four times in the back, and then stuffing her body in the freezer for nine months while he spends her money? This is acceptable and even hilarious because he was a nice, charming guy, she was a rich bitch and he donated some of her money to charity? And it is not like the events were ripped from far back in history -- this woman's immediate family is still living. (Reminded me of The Iron Lady in that single aspect.) News flash: the jury got it right. I feel guilty for enjoying the story (even though my laughter abruptly stopped at the murder).
 These are from the Samsonville garden. Best potatoes ever!
For regular tomatoes, in Castleton I grew Celebrity this year. They are great in containers -- plants didn't get too big, produced an abundance of medium-sized tomatoes perfect for salads, sandwiches and caprese. Thanks to Becker's for the recommendation -- two paws  up!
Bob drove the commissioner's SUV to Rochester today. Filled it up last night. Wow...

Lots of things to write, but very little time to devote. It will keep, or be forgotten, I suppose.

Monday, September 03, 2012

My weekend
And this was waiting for me -- it seems Little Shop of Horrors was quite busy too

Saturday, September 01, 2012

I went swimming today! It's been a hot summer but I haven't done much swimming. There have been a lot of problems with the filter and I don't find it appetizing when the water isn't 1) warm and 2) crystal clear. So...closing the pool in 2-3 weeks so it was a treat.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Can it be classes only started on Monday? What a week this has been. Yesterday I barely had time to eat my Genisoy bar and yogurt and I had to drink my seltzer during class. Not easy making it to 7 on only 250 calories! But my classes are going well, at least. Toleration in particular was engaged and engaging last night. I kept them busy for three hours!

Another campus construction picture 

Tuesday they are closing Fuller Road around I-90 and Washington Avenue to install the second of two rotaries. The relocation of Washington Avenue due to the expansion of Nano is making the morning ride to campus a challenge.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tired does not begin to capture how I feel. Two long days in a row -- quite a shock to my system after a leisurely nearly four months! Yesterday I was back on campus for my first day of classes. They went fine, although I wasn't my usual chipper self. Not sure the students noticed, though, so I guess I did fine. I took some photos of the construction, which is going on everywhere.

These are everywhere. The long stretches make it a hassle to access the buildings, to say the least. I have no idea what they are doing. I suppose it is in the plan (there is a big sign explaining the changes in the last photo, below, but I didn't bother to study it).



Today was Dolly's funeral. My suit sure has been getting a lot of use in 2012. It was heartbreaking. So many memories. The outpouring of support from the community was touching, the ride to the cemetery through West Shokan and over Peekamoose Mountain and the cemetery itself in Grahamsville were beautiful. The procession had a police escort, which was much appreciated. I can't imagine what her family is feeling. Not that I cannot identify with the emotional impact of a loved one's death, but being hit by a car is just awful. With my driving phobia and in-general automobile aversion -- well, there are no words. And then there were the media stories -- despicable.

I took this picture on the way home.


 We stopped at the Mountain Brauhaus -- such a good place!



Tomorrow is another long day on campus, so no snoozing until Friday. Then it's off to Samsonville. I have barn duty this weekend. A glimmer of good news, my mother reports that she is feeling a little better -- so our help appears to be working.

This is funny. Much appreciated the laugh today.